Trading has always been a key component of the Pokémon franchise, right the way back to the launch of the original Game Boy games. Nowadays, of course, trading is handled wirelessly, but back in the '90s we had to use cables to link up consoles and share 'mon – and it's that period of time that this recent My Retro Life video focuses on.
In case you haven't encountered the channel already, My Retro Life is the work of Tyler Esposito, a filmmaker who has a wealth of home movie footage recorded by his late father. He's been sharing these amazing clips for a few years now, and one of his latest looks at the process of trading Pokémon with friends.
It's easy to forget today that we were so reliant on wires back in the '90s (although the Game Boy Color had an IR port, lest we forget), but there's something comforting about this more innocent time. Do you have any fond stories to share relating to trading Pokémon with your pals? Let us know with a comment.
I remember when I needed to bring an entire PC + LAN cable to a friend's house for multiplayer
I remember going to an official tournament in Santa Monica, California at the height of Pokemania!
It felt so cool to see rows of tables with people all lined up, huddled together with their short little link cables, squinting at the Game Boy screens. It was a very analog setup, but at the time, it felt so futuristic - an entire room of people physically linked up playing Pokemon. It was the coolest thing in my 12-year old world.
All I have to say about Pokemon trading is that trade evolutions were a mistake, what a lame way to try enforce a mechanic, It's annyoing and totally breaks any sort of immersion. I think more than 90% of trades I've made in Pokemon (which honestly isn't that many) have been me trading pokemon back and forth just for the sake of evolving them.
I also used the cable to play tetris 1vs. 1. Pretty neat to be honest
I miss when those games shipped in a completed state.
Trading was such a chore and link cables were treasured among my friends! Tbh, it still kind of is, it's not like the setup and trading animation is any shorter than it was in the early Gens.
I actually never traded in Pokemon until ORAS (first game was Black and White) because there was never anyone around me to trade with. Nowadays, I'm trading like a bloody maniac on Wonder/Surprise Trade. I was literally hopping from Union Room to Union Room in BDSP before Legends came out to try and get version exclusives (which I somehow actually managed to do).
I miss those days. Link cable play was so fun on GB and GBA.
There was nothing quite like seeing the worry in your opponent's face when you started charging that solar beam.
@Expa0 Thank Arceus Legends made them into just evolution items. I CAN FINALLY USE A PORYGON Z AFTER HOW LONG.
Back then it was the future!
@BloodNinja Now that's a throwback to the old 90's/00's PC culture, the old LAN parties. Never went to one but it was a big thing back in the day.
@JayJ Yeah! I never went to a large one, but there were always 3-4 of us grinding away together on Diablo II come the weekend
My first trade was a Sandshrew, I of course had Red.
I also remember linking up two PS1's together to play C&C with a mate, dragging my TV up his three flights of stairs wasn't fun.
I bought a link cable back in the day with my own allowance money just to trade Pokemon on the bus. XD
@Fizza I was addicted to Surprise Trade in my recent Shield playthrough. I received some interesting duds, clear shiny hacks, and some genuinely nice breeding rejects to help fill my Dex.
I remember me and my friends doing that with Starcraft.
I also remember in high school, on the last day of the year, the teachers allowing us to have a Halo Combat Evolved Lan Party. We’d pack up our Xboxes and use the schools TVs and extra network switches they had in storage. 16 player madness in the band hall lol.
I remember it, however I also remember losing my cords and my friends didnt have any so couldn't trade lol sure it may have been comforting to link up physically with friends buts its obsolete and needs to stay in the past
Did so many tournaments, with Emerald like that.
Ah my brother and I used to use one copy as a sacrificial one, start the game to get each starter and then use the clone glitch to have a starter eachbto get the Pokédex 100%
Those were the days
The IR port was a weird thing.
The only time I ever used my link cable was in high school for Gen1, but it got so much use. As did the trade cloning glitch, especially when someone showed up with Mew or the MissingNo overleveled Electrode. Trying to conceal a game boy in class was a challenge, successfully obscuring a link cable to have a match was the true test of the dedicated Pokemon player.
@TheRedComet Ah, were you a fellow band-geek, also? What instrument did you play?
Alto and Baritone sax. Alto most of the time.
I remember that a friend and I found out that removing the cable at the correct point in time and connecting at another time let us clone Pokemon.
@TheRedComet Dude! Same here! And bassoon, somehow. I still have and play my alto sax as a hobby. Bari's are way out of my budget!
Me and a group of friends would bring our gameboy's to school and either trade or battle.
Such wonderful times.
I remember I used to play a lot with link cables with my brother.
Yeah, I actually traded from FireRed to emerald using that cable. After that, I migrated the best pokemon from GBA to ds using that ds migration feature. After that, I used 3ds pokemon bank to bring my favorite GBA and ds pokemon to the next regions. So my Kanto FireRed pokemon are now in Alola thanks to that I haven't played a main pokemon game since ultra sun.
Trading Pokemon with physical hardware elicited a different level of engagement between you and your friend, a feeling wireless technology simply cannot recreate. Even trading/battling with GBA's wireless adapter immediately felt different, even though the novelty was very exciting.
It is a similar feeling to getting together in person to play in the same room, as opposed to playing online multiplayer alone in your room.
and now you need a cable to evolve Pokémon
Ah the good ol days. When you could buy a physical game and could play it without a mandatory download. They put all the content in the base game instead of selling seven dlc packs. And no micro transactions.
No I don't remember because I didn't have friends who played Pokemon.
yeah, the same cable I was using to play the versus mode in Tetris
I remember sitting at the dinner table back then trading Pokémon with my cousin and we were getting annoyed at the connection being lost sometimes. lol
I had Four Swords, Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, SA1, SA2, SA3, Sonic Battle, Pokemon Ruby, Fire Emblem 8 and the only game I managed to link with someone was SA3, in a desperate attempt to find out if Eggman was playable in the extra zone!
Note that this was in late 2004 before I had easy internet access.
@BloodNinja Same. At the height of going to LAN's I would bring my 40lb 19in flat viewsonic CRT monitor, rolling office chair, a 3x3 card table, giant server case PC with all the neon none sense, and all the other accessories with big bag of snacks and drinks. when I was at the top of my game I could bring it all in 1 trip!
I used that cable to transfer my inventory from Golden Sun 1 to Golden Sun: The Lost Age, I wish we could still do that in the newer games.
@Darknilious Ah, those were the days. It does make me appreciate laptops and handheld portables MUCH more, after going through those feats of herculean strength!
I've been playing Pokémon since the beginning and I am gonna be completely honest. The one and only time I have ever traded Pokémon with another individual (that I actually knew) were as recently as Sword and Shield. Before the GTS and wireless trading, I would always somehow procure another console and game (be it a GB/GBC, GBA) and just basically trade with myself.
I didn't know about the trade evolutions until it happened by accident, with pokemon I had trained for eternity, knew could evolve, but got frustrated by that they just didn't. Then we traded back, and started trading many more to see what happened. As always, I had the less popular of the two games, that way it was easier to find people to trade the ones with I couldn't get.
I ended up trading with myself as a kid to get all of the Pokemon between RBY. .
But will say, was pumped when they had the wireless adapter with fire red/leaf green, but the GTS in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum.....THAT was dope. I honestly miss the GTS and how simplistic it was (without needing to use Home).
I remember when Space Invaders came to the arcades. 👾
I remember when I could trade at all... my wife is banned for going on like 8 days now because her game crashed when we were local trading. A cubone for a phanpy! Like why would we scam over those lol
Ugh I hated the trade evolution’s because there’s no one near me that has the game. (Seriously I live out in the middle of nowhere)
The only one that could help me with trade evo’s are my sister and now that the Pokémon franchise is on the switch and she doesn’t want a switch I’m flat out of luck! 😑
Hopefully that link cable thingy in legends is kept in the franchise going forward so that people who live in the middle of nowhere could complete the Pokédex.
I remember playing Red and Blue in church with the pastors adopted son. Good times.
I used IR to trade but it was a bit of a nightmare compared to using a cable because you had to lay both gameboys perfectly flat and still pointing at each others IR.
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